Here i shall be analysing critically my final images for “The 12 Dancing Princesses” to assess whether they accomplish my aims from the start of this project. I aimed to adapt and illustrate a Grimm’s Fairytale- little known and already present with some feminist ideals, in a manner that reflects modern feminist ideas and strives for a gender representation that does not pigeon hole women into traditional ideas of femininity. I also wanted to asthetically make this a gender neutral story, through the use of non traditional type faces ( not swirly, flourished and in stereotypically fairytale/girly colours and textures) and imagery that turns stereotypes involving gender colour theory and ideas of feminine beauty on their heads. I aimed to create 12 unconventional “princesses” that just represent young girls, not with miniscule disney-esque waistlines or large eyelashed eyes; enjoying their youth and being ambitious to do more than the traditional “marry the prince and live happily every after”. I was inspired to create this project, by quite frankly the world around us that has been so rigid towards what young females should enjoy and aspire to. Below i will analyse each image- its purpose and whether it accomplishes that.
Aside from the feminist attributes i strive for, this was also an experiment for me artistically to combine 2D and 3D paper cut outs and illustrations to create interesting immersive worlds in gender neutral colours, and you cannot get more neutral than greyscale, which i think also looks quite modern and contemporary.
This is the image from the first page of the story- where it talks about the king’s 12 clever and adventurous daughters ( note this adaptation describes their intellectual attributes as opposed to physical attributes) and how they all shared a bedroom which he locked each night to keep them out of mischeif. Here i wanted to create that bedroom atmosphere, and introduce the characters through their furniture as opposed to physical appearance. They are differentiated by their contrasting bedsheets and headboards, and the central mirror gives a clue to its importance within the story as there is a secret door behind it. This image has a selection of beds that has varying patterns and textures upon them, but note i have tried to veer away from stereotypical princess patterns and gone with more expressive ink patterns.
this image is from the next page- where the king is baffled by how the girls get through so many shoes. This is another image that allows me to diversify the characters without revealing their appearance, the shoes are varying styles from flat sandals to big clumpy boots and delicate shoes, this shows that a princess is not limited to glass slippers and tries to remove the stereotype attached to the word “princess” i also think this is a more interesting way to show such a literal statement, and it gives the attention back to the girls as opposed to the kings dialogue.
This image is my first introduction of a character, it shows one of the princes trying to discover the girls secret- sleeping with a cup of tea containing sleeping potion. I strived to avoid traditional ideas of masculinity also within these illustrations, giving the men softer more feminine figures and features, opposing the stereotypes attached to princes always being “handsome & strong” when actually they can be weak and fall asleep from a cup of tea. i think the feminine floral rug also lends itself to this, contrasting a male figure with female attributes is my aim to equalise the sexes, by making it ok for men to be feminine aswell as ok for women to be strong. Also by his feet not touching the floor it gives an air of vulnerability to his character that is often reserved for female characters.
This image shows the next part where some men do follow the girls into the land below, but they are heard stumbling behind them. I liked this one, because the black contrasts the bright white really well but also the Prince again is given similar proportions to the female characters, and not over masculinized. Also by giving the girls carefree expressions it shows how the male characters presence is not affecting them and their comfort level. I think if i did this one again though i may make the females more prominent in the shot, but i think this suits it purpose.
This image shows the next part of the story where it says that the girls heard the men behind them, but just tied them to a tree and left them in the forest whilst they went to their parties. It has taken a more sinister turn, but i was reassured that subjects are often sugar coated for children and sometimes its not necessary. The original grimms story is awfully gruesome, and i think the light hearted tone of the illustrations in these contrasts the darker story quite well. I didn’t want the fate of the princes to be overbearing and too obvious, because it should be more about the wills of the girls to contine to their party. There fore you will have to look to the back of the image to see a pair of hands tied up behind the tree, by not personifying the prince in this scene, i lower his importance and by moving the girls to the foreground they appear more powerful and central to the plotline. I also really like how carefree and happy they look again, not overly sexualised either in their figures or facial expressions.
This image shows the girls on the rowing boats they use, to row THEMSELVES across to the dance hall on the other side of the lake. this contrasts the original story because there were princes to row them, but in this version the girls are self sufficient enough to row themselves and enjoy their parties without the help of princes. This one looks innocent and child friendly, its only the next page where it takes a darker turn but i think its these contrasts that make the story interesting and different to what is the norm for children’s literature, after all a shock reaction is better than no reaction. I think the plain background stops this image being too busy and by cropping it it looks braver and more contemporary.
This is one of my favorite images, its darkest in content and in colour! I really like the contrast between black and white in some of these, i think if they were all predominently white then the illustrations would get samey. This one depicts the princes that are thrown in the lake and left to get wet whilst the girls go to dance. Whilst its implied that these princes are drowned, its not said, and the imagination of the child reading will be in charge of the outcome of this. By illustrating it with the prince sitting at the bottom blowing bubbles, its less violent and as its make believe world nothing says they cannot breath underwater, but this is entirely left up to the reader. The depth in this image worked well by moving the sea weed around to create a fore, mid and background and adding the bubbles and fish digitally was much more successful than suspending them from wire in the set itself.
This is one of the more abstract successful images- i think this one really works because it leaves alot to the imagination of the reader. This page says that they continued to go dancing and had a wonderful time, it doesn’t give any connotations about the parties themselves so that is up to the imagination of the reader and although the girls are in dresses, this is to highlight the shoes which range from all types masculine and feminine, and by giving them loosely shaped bodies with little definition i haven’t sexualised the characters at all.
this follows as a double page image with no text, illustrating the party in a bit more detail but the loose composition merely shows them having a good time together, as opposed to adding elements of embellishment and royalty and well, glitter that are so overdone in “princess” themed children’s stories.
this image shows one man who managed to escape the forest, he told the king of their parties but no longer wanted the kings deal of marrying a princess, because he didnt like being tied up by them. This reverses ideas of traditional masculinity and highlights an obvious yet overlooked fact that you cannot marry someone you don’t know anyway, they might tie you up and leave you in a forest for all you know. This one does show the king in an authoritive stance, but there is a point to this because of the contrasting way he is represented at the end of the story. but he wears funky printed clothes and has very little physical definition which helps avoid stereotyping his power through physical attributes.
This one shows not a scene from the story, but objects relating to the text not directly. I liked in this adaptation to have a mix of character and object based illustration, to keep it interesting. In this scene the girls talk about how perhaps someone so sneaky as their father (for hiring princes to stalk them) shouldnt be running the kingdom- hence an image of the paper crown jewels.
this one depicts the scene where the girls pack the kings bags and send him off to early retirement on a golf course in spain, so they can try their hand at running the kingdom. Its one of those more abstracted object based scenes again, but i think its really successful, and i’ve added more feminine objects to the kings luggage in an effort to effect not only female stereotypes, but male aswell ( i.e. the frilly sunhat and floral shirt)
this one depicts the girls as rulers- instead of sitting them on thrones i gave them a more hands on view of leadership presenting them with weapons to defend the kingdom. By giving them this stereotypically masculine role it opens girls to the ideas that they can be strong and heroic too, Queens are not simply there to sit beside a king but are capable themselves. and the fact they still look happy aims to show that change and responsibilty is not a bad development , but this new power can be enjoyed and appreciated. I also really like loose compositions and clean backgrounds it appears.
This is one of my favorite images, i really like all the white space. This shows the king enjoying his new life in spain, looking much more chilled out and happy- the caption says that perhaps his daughters are much cleverer than the princes he had hired anyway. Thereby acknoledging them for their intelligence which father figures often dont in fairytales, often just their beauty or grace is acknoledged.
This is the last image, accompanied by a caption saying they still went dancing everynight. This shows that responsibility doesnt mean giving up fun, and that these girls could do both and hopefully empower young women to strive to do more and enjoy themselves more. I really like the closeness of them in this image also, and how the story is ending as it began, with a group of fun loving girls who don’t need tiaras to be princesses. I have actually ve-toed tiaras throughout the whole story as a stereotype of princess-like characters, apart from the scene where they became queens because it signified their promotion into ruling.
This is finally my front cover image- i wanted something fun and enticing and by showing the different shoes i am showing diversity in the characters, where often in fairytales numbers of princesses look identical and have identical features and gowns, this shows that its ok to not be a cookie cutter version of a princess, but that they all are different people. I also really liked the font in this, i did try several fonts before deciding to hand paint it, i combined some flourishes with more masculine thick lines in the type to create what i hope to be a gender neutral type, showing that masculine and feminine are both fine and better if mixed!